I think this is the book I was born to write. Or write half of. Co-written with my good friend Denise Wall who bred my dog, Sky, Do Border Collies Dream of Sheep? is the true story of how two littermates grow up in wildly different environments, one, Denise’s May, to be a sheepdog, the other, Sky, to become a service dog. The chapters alternate between May’s life and education on the farm where she was born and Sky’s life in New York City where, miraculously, she begins to learn the trade that will one day be hers by copying an older service dog, Flash, who is winding down his working career. As Sky steps up, Flash begins to let go and both find a life of balance – work, play, rest and affection, just as May does on the farm.
Yet this isn’t just the story of these two dogs. It’s the story, too, of how the wolf became the dog and how the talents all our dogs display came from their wild wolf ancestors. It’s the story of how work function shapes the dog’s thinking. And it’s a love story, the story of how our species and their species bonded to each other long, long ago, a story we dog lovers all know well.
The book is available at www.outrunpress.com as well as on Amazon. There’s a reasonably priced version where the 154 photos and drawings are in black and white and a deluxe edition where everything’s in full color. Either way, you will never look at dogs in quite the same way again.
With Thanksgiving almost here, it’s only natural to think about visiting the relatives. So on our recent visit to Memphis, we took my service dog, Sky, to the zoo and stopped by to see the wolves. All the other visitors, human adults and children, were howling, hoping to get the wolves up and animated, hoping they’d do something interesting, something wolf-like. But despite the noise, the wolves slept peacefully. Nothing, it seemed, could get them going. Until Sky barked.
Quite suddenly, the pack became alert. They looked around, sniffed around and came as close as they could to the intruder. At that point, they were below us and they couldn’t see Sky, who now, having stirred things up, was content to hang out on the path and have nothing more to do with the descendants of her ancient forebears.
When we decided it was time to go, we passed an area where there was a rock formation, behind the fence but on the same level as the rest of us. It was startling to see the wolves leap up there, jumping all over each other to get as close as possible to Sky. They were, now, completely animated and alive with excitement. They were, as everyone had hoped, doing something interesting, something wolf-like.
It might have been the best day the Memphis wolves ever had. Finally, there was something worth getting up for, something worthy of their attention.
As for Sky, how typical. Go visit the relatives, press all those old buttons, get everyone all stirred up with ancient issues and then leave without even helping with the dishes.